Look Out for Signs of Aging
“Oh, there’s no place like home for the holidays.” Christmas is a perfect time for family gatherings. For those of us with aging parents, it’s especially important as we visit them to be on the lookout for the signs of aging. Things like an overall lack of cleanliness, mobility issues, proper food availability, and medication issues can be major red flags that it’s dangerous for Mom or Dad to be living on his/ her own anymore.
Lack of Cleanliness
As you travel to visit loved ones, be prepared to look for signs of difficulty with their ability to live alone. Begin by looking at the outside of their house as you pull into the driveway. First, look at the general cleanliness of the house. Are the bushes overgrown and mail still piled in the mailbox? These can be telltale signs before you ever go through the front door. When you walk into the house, look at the general cleanliness. Is the house piled up with personal belongings that would normally have been put away? You may see clothes that should be hanging in the closet that are laying on the bed or floor. Newspapers or magazines may also be piled up. Next, look for the US mail. Is the mail piled up unopened? Are there bills that haven’t been paid? If so, check to see if the bills are overdue. These can be signs that your loved one is having difficulty with activities of daily living.
Watch closely at your loved ones and how they move around their home. Are they having difficulties with walking, sitting down, or getting up from their favorite chair? Check for potential obstacles or safety hazards like floor rugs or extension cords. Try to check their bathroom if possible. Look for safety concerns around the shower and the bathtub. Think about how they are getting in and out of the bathtub. Look for signs that they may not be bathing.
Proper Food Availability
Another area of importance that needs to be checked is food availability. Open the refrigerator and take a close look inside. Is there a sufficient amount of food to maintain good health? Look at the expiration dates to see if the food is safe to eat. Check to see if any of the food is spoiled. Take a look at the types of foods and ask yourself if what you see is appropriate for preparing breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
If your loved one has any particular medical issues, such as diabetes, make sure the food choices support their health needs. You may find the medications in the kitchen enabling you to check both at the same time. Many seniors use “pill minders” so their medications are readily available and as a reminder to take their pills on time. Make sure the pill minder is being used appropriately. If today is Thursday evening and the Thursday morning medications have not been taken, this could be a sign of a problem. Don’t forget to check the original pill bottles. Look for the medications being out of date or if there is too much or too little medication remaining in the bottle based on the date of the prescription. These can be urgent signs of concern.
Having the Difficult Conversation
As a family member, you may be dealing with a wide range of emotions from feeling guilty to what do I do next? People’s lives take them in different directions due to careers, growing families as well as personal commitments. These may not be options in your family that can be changed. However, at this moment, while standing in your parent’s home, you can do something about what you’ve discovered.
Talking to Your Loved One
First, talk to your loved one knowing this will not be an easy conversation. Start with questions about how they live their daily life. Discuss routines and habits. Now, ask about the things you witnessed and look for how they respond, not just the words they say. Are they getting angry? Are they avoiding eye contact and not willing to give you answers? These are signs that there is an issue and they are aware of it. If you have other family members, now is the time to reach out to them and share what you have learned. This may also be another very difficult conversation. It can be unsettling to see your parents as they are now and not how you remember them when you were a child. The most important thing you can do is start the conversation immediately and begin looking at options for the safety of your loved ones.
Consider a CCRC
Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC) are excellent options that you may want to consider. This type of community provides all levels of senior care as health needs continue to change. Now may be the time when you have to decide to move your family member from their home to a location that is better designed to care for their needs. However, don’t just move your loved one to the first location you see or the one that is the most convenient. You need to do your research so you can make an informed decision. Don’t be afraid to ask questions as you check out as many locations as you need to make the best choice. Look closely at locations that provide a variety of levels of senior care.
It can be difficult for your loved one to acknowledge that he/ she can no longer properly care for himself/ herself. Making the decision to move into a senior retirement community can be extremely challenging and scary for your aging parent/s, so it’s important to find the best one that fits everyone’s needs.
If you and your loved one are considering senior living, The Ohio Masonic Home is your go to resource. With three locations in Springfield, Waterville, and Medina, OH, their senior living communities offer 24/7 care and support for independent living, assisted living, and memory care. For more information or to schedule a tour at one of the scenic and beautiful communities. Call (877) 881-1623 today to learn more about their wonderful senior living options.